It is apparent that the COVID-19 Corona Virus outbreak has caused immense changes in the lives of everyone around the world. If you or a loved one have been personally affected by it or the mandated quarantine has limited your social activity, no one has been completely unaffected by these recent events. While there are numerous questions that arise, regarding the mental health of populations still under the quarantine lockdown, there is an added layer of concern for those who in recovery from drugs and alcohol.
COVID-19 Presenting Stressors for Potential Relapse
In the field of addiction recovery, there are a number of factors that often play into a relapse back into drug and alcohol addiction. One of the most prominent threats to recovery is the presence of stressors. For many people in addiction, they often have resorted to using psychoactive substances as a means of coping with stress, and the subconscious neural pathways in the brain still mistakenly perceive drugs and alcohol as an effective coping mechanism. Thus, many people encounter stressors that they are unable to successfully cope with are soon faced with strong cravings and thoughts of using substances; the addictive patterns in their brains begin to resurface.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a myriad of stressors for everyone. From an immediate standpoint, the threat of infection in many regions is a substantial burden on people who fear for their own health. Given the longer incubation period of the virus, many people may spend weeks worrying if they themselves will be faced with a dangerous illness. In addition, there is also a substantial increase in stress and worry in individuals whose family members or loved ones have tested positive for the coronavirus.
COVID-19 and Economic Stress
From a more indirect standpoint, there is also an immense sense of economic stress surrounding the pandemic. Due to the temporary closure of businesses during the quarantine lockdown, there has been a massive reduction in economic opportunities, and staggering amounts of unemployment. For many people with instability in their employment (or loss of employment), there is an added layer of stressors, especially for those with families and other people to provide for.
For many in recovery, this is an immense risk to their recovery. If they are not well-equipped to handle these stressors through meditative techniques or a strong social support system, many may be drawn to seek relief from a familiar source: drugs and alcohol. While the allure of instant relief may be incredibly strong, it is never worth it. Falling back into addictive patterns and behaviors will not resolve any of your issues, nor make your problems go away. While time may be difficult, it is more important than ever to deal with your stressors directly, take appropriate precautions, and trust in your higher power to bring you through difficult times.
If you or anyone else is having addictive thoughts or have gone through a relapse, it is not too late to give us a call and we can connect you with community support and addiction professionals to ensure you get the help you need. Please do not hesitate to give us a call at 602-535-6468, our team is ready to help.
Maintaining Recovery During The Isolation of Quarantine
While stressors of the pandemic may present a problem to many, there is also another factor those in recovery should take into account. This would be the lack of direct social support during quarantine. Since the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has implemented a social distancing protocol to slow the spread of the virus, thus people are advised to stay in their homes and avoid social gatherings.
COVID-19’s affect on Social Support Gatherings
For the addiction recovery community, this order represents a substantial change in how many people approach their recovery from drugs and alcohol. One of the most important methods for people to maintain their recovery is meeting with support groups. Within these meetings, people are able to share difficulties, ways of coping with stressors, avoid relapse triggers, and maintain a sense of social support.
However, due to the limits on social interactions these gatherings have either been canceled or moved to an online format. While some may have been able to adapt to online webcam meetings, there are many who do find these meeting formats to be as effective; there is still an immense sense of isolation. For those who do not have adequate social support, this adds to the risk of relapse.
COVID-19 Interfering with Genuine Connection
There is a theory surrounding the nature of addiction; that addiction itself is a symptom of isolation. The separation one from others presents a sense of deprivation of one of our most basic needs: the need to belong to a community. Without this sense of belonging, there is an existential pain that may drive many to artificially seek relief through drugs and alcohol. Studies have shown that individuals in social isolation have an increased susceptibility to engaging in both high-risk and drug-seeking behaviors. If you or someone you love is struggling with feelings of isolation, it is vital to reach out to them to provide some sense of social support.
Should People Enroll in Treatment During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Given that there are numerous dangers due to the pandemic, many individuals may question the validity and safety of enrolling in treatment for substance abuse and addiction at this time. However, there are numerous reasons as to why addiction recovery is essential during these times.
One of the largest reasons to enroll in treatment is due to the fact that addicted individuals actually have a greater susceptibility to contracting the virus. Those who are addicted to psychoactive substances have a substantially weakened immune system, especially when smoking and other respiratory inhibiting activities are involved. If they are not able to get the help they need, they are more likely to contract the coronavirus, as well as have more harm done to their health from it.
The Dangers of Detoxing Alone in a Pandemic
Another reason for treatment during this time is the availability of medically-assisted withdrawal. Due to fear of contracting the coronavirus in a facility, many addicted individuals may try to self-detox from substances at home and alone. This is an incredibly dangerous practice, as unsupervised detoxes (especially from alcohol) can result in seizures or even death.
Addiction treatment centers are listed as an essential business. Just as addiction never ceases to harm others on any occasion, recovery must also be an option at all times. Even in difficult times, the worth of recovery is still invaluable. And even for those who need help but cannot risk being exposed, there are also options through online telehealth to pursue recovery and find connections through technology. Whatever needs you have, our team at Stonewall Institute is ready to help, please call us at 602-535-6468 to get started.
Stonewall Institute’s Mission During the Corona Virus Epidemic
At Stonewall Institute, we understand that these are difficult times. While many may be feeling the stress from the threat of infection, the economic instability, or the feelings of isolation, our team is dedicated to ensuring you the best addiction treatment Phoenix can offer, no matter the extenuating circumstances.
To ensure that we can provide you the care you need, our administration at Stonewall Institute has implemented several adjustments in order to be within full compliance with state and federal regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these changes regarding our visitors, colleagues, and clients include:
- The availability of all behavioral health services (including Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs) online. All online services provided by Stonewall Institute are held on a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform.
- We are closely monitoring the health and wellness of our onsite staff and clients by administering Daily Medical Questionnaires (as well as the daily use of a thermometer to check for fever).
- Clients who exhibit flu-like symptoms, you will be put in contact with CDC professionals to discuss a further course of action to ensure the safety of all other clients and staff.
- Staff who exhibit flu-like symptoms will be asked to remain home.
- Visitors (including family or friends of clients and staff) are not allowed onsite until further notice.
- Our cleaning staff has increased sanitation standards, by frequently and diligently disinfecting all touched surfaces (which primarily consist of chairs and benches, counters and tables, doorknobs, appliances, and other frequently touched items).
- We also extended additional contact information if in any occurrence that you cannot immediately contact Stonewall Institute. If our behavioral health services number at 602-535-6468 is not available, please call emergency services at 911, or the Crisis response network at 602-427-4600.
Our Promise From Stonewall Institute
We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious threat and that every citizen must do their best to ensure the health and safety of each other. At Stonewall Institute, we take this commitment to heart. We understand that many people, whether they are clients or staff, put themselves in our trust. We are doing our utmost to ensure our people a healthy environment from COVID-19, we also are fully dedicated to ensuring that our clients acquire the behavioral and mental services they need, especially during this time.
From all of us at Stonewall Institute, stay healthy, stay safe, and stay hopeful.
Hosseinbor, M., Yassini Ardekani, S. M., Bakhshani, S., & Bakhshani, S. (2014). Emotional and social loneliness in individuals with and without substance dependence disorder. International journal of high risk behaviors & addiction, 3(3), e22688. https://doi.org/10.5812/ijhrba.22688